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Driven: Suzuki Jimny demand outstripping supply

Strong early interest, but limited production holds back Suzuki Jimny sales

25 Jan 2019

SUZUKI is confident that, given unfettered supply, sales of its redesigned Jimny series would triple, and even approach the volume of its perennial bestseller, the evergreen Swift light hatch.
On sale now from $23,990 plus on-road costs – or $2000 more for the automatic that is expected to account for the lion’s share of demand – Suzuki Australia general manager for automobiles Michael Pachota revealed that just 1100 units have been allocated for this market this year, out of a global total of 60,000. 
Last year, Suzuki registered 7785 Swift models in Australia to make it the Japanese firm’s bestseller by some margin (followed by the Vitara at 5023 units).
“We’ve probably got in excess now of 350 pre-orders, and if were to continue down that line (with no constraints) we could be three-fold over the 1100 vehicles Australia is getting at this stage in my opinion,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Jimny in Melbourne this week.
“Many of my staff and dealer network alike are saying that if we had unlimited supply this car could potentially reach Swift numbers.”
Mr Pachota also revealed that the deliberately stylised retro look of the latest Jimny – which leans heavily on all its predecessors from the original LJ10 of 1970s and its SJ30 Sierra successor of 1981 to the outgoing SJ40 unveiled in 1997 ¬– has opened up a fresh new buyer base for the little 4x4.
“We have got so many automatics in bright colours being sold to a different kind of buyer type that would usually look at Suzuki Jimnys in the past,” he remarked. “Normally, it would be off-road enthusiasts, now it just broadens and that demographic for the new one is so diverse people just want one because they’re cute.”
Designed and developed in Japan, the new GJ series is the fourth-generation Jimny, even though previous iterations were known as LJ and Sierra in Australia. 
While not all-new since the basic ladder-frame chassis is carried over (“for optimum off-road performance”), the changes are still extensive, with torsional rigidity up 150 per cent over the old vehicle thanks to a new ‘X’ member brace and two additional crossmembers. To help resist corrosion, improved zinc coating and undercoating techniques have also been introduced.
Dimensionally, the newcomer sits on the same 2250mm wheelbase, but is 30mm shorter due to smaller bumpers, while the body is 45mm wider at 1645mm and 20mm higher at 1725mm than before. 
Japan also gains access to a narrower ‘JB64’ version with the plastic mudguard flares removed and a 658cc three-cylinder turbo engine in order for the Jimny to comply with Kei car regulations.
Australian and all export market ‘JB74’ Jimnys however, are powered by the company’s tried and trusted 1.5-litre K15B twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine with variable valve timing, usurping the older and smaller (yet heavier) 62kW/110Nm 1.3-litre unit. 
Delivering 75kW of power at 6000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 4000rpm, it drives either the rear or all four wheels via a part-time 4WD system dubbed ‘AllGrip Pro’ in Suzuki-speak. 
Among the latter’s features are a low-range transfer case (allowing switching from two-wheel drive high to 4WD-high to 4WD-low at speeds of up to 100km/h), hill-descent and hill-holder functionality. 
The 1075kg five-speed manual wagon consumes 6.4 litres per 100km, while the 15kg-heavier four-speed torque-converter auto version drinks 6.9L/100km. Carbon dioxide emissions are pegged at 146 and 158g/km respectively.
Along with the ladder-frame body-on-frame construction, backing up the Jimny’s off-road credentials is a beefier three-link rigid axle with coil springs at both ends, a stronger rear axle housing with greater flexural strength, a brake limited-slip differential and generous clearances thanks to a 37-degree approach angle, 28-degree ramp breakover angle and 49-degree departure angle. 
Meanwhile, ground clearance is rated at 210mm – 10mm more than before.
While brakes remain discs up front and a set of drums out back, they’ve been upgraded with autonomous emergency braking as well as electronic stability control, while lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and auto on/off high-beam headlights further flesh out the newcomer’s safety advances. The airbag count in this four-seater wagon is six. 
Despite all this, the Jimny only manages a three-star Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP)crash-test rating.
Inside the Jimny, the chunky instrument binnacles are a throwback to earlier series, but the rest of the dash is contemporary from the 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen offering sat-nav, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, to the three-spoke wheel’s switchgear, climate control, cruise control and high-quality buttons. 
Wider front seats offer better support, a wider range of adjustability and more travel to accommodate larger occupants while the rear pews now fold fully flat and feature reclinable backrests and two ISOFIX latches. 
Luggage space is rated at 377 litres – a 53L increase – while the rear door swings open to the right and featured a mounted full-sized spare in true 4x4-style.
Other standard features include LED headlights, rear privacy glass, body coloured door handles and 15-inch alloy wheels riding on 195/80 all-terrain tyres.
Service intervals are at six months, and if buyers subscribe to the fixed-price servicing regime, the warranty and roadside assistance increase from three to five years, matching most other manufacturers.

2019 Suzuki Jimny pricing*
Jimny $23,990
Jimny (a) $25,990

*Excludes on-road costs

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